Best of Downtown Tempe, Arizona

Tempe, Arizona is home to Arizona State University and located in the heart of the Valley of the Sun.  I am no stranger to Tempe, graduating from both high school and University. Many years later, I am back to walk down memory lane and explore my hometown. Tempe is no longer just a college town in the shadow of Phoenix and Scottsdale, this little town has grown up!  Offering an amazing variety of excellent independent restaurants, shops, and activities, Tempe is a wonderful blend of modern and hip fitting along the rich history of the town.Best of Downtown Tempe AZ

Visiting twice in the last two months, I have discovered some new and wonderful activities and am reminded of the spots that are better than ever.  Here are my recommendations for the Best of Downtown Tempe Activites, Shopping, and Dining. Continue reading “Best of Downtown Tempe, Arizona”

How Growing up in Phoenix Prepared Me for Living in Puerto Rico

We recently moved to the beautiful island of Puerto Rico.  I was a little nervous about the culture shock of leaving our hot, dry desert city and adjusting to small town, island life.  It sounds weird, but it turns out growing up in Phoenix has actually prepared me for living in Puerto Rico.  GrowingupPHX

Here are 10 ways growing up in Phoenix, Arizona prepared me for living in Puerto Rico:

Close connection to foreign countries. 

It is faster to drive to Mexico from Phoenix than any state in the US, Mexico is Arizona’s neighbor to the South.  Likewise, Puerto Rico’s closest neighbors are definitely not the US mainland (Hello Dominican Republic and British Virgin Islands)

Everyone is (a little) Bilingual

Anyone who grew up in Arizona speaks at least a little Spanish. I even attended a bilingual elementary school for English as Second Language (ESL program).  Everyone speaks a little English in Puerto Rico.  Many people are fully bilingual in both Arizona and Puerto Rico.   Admittedly, Arizona Spanglish is a different dialect that the Puerto Rican Spanish, but it is a good foundation to build upon.  Plus I was always really good at charades, so I can act out many difficult phrases.

There are more Snowbirds than Local Residents half the year

Winters in Phoenix are overrun by people from the Mid-west desperately trying to escape the cold and warm up.  Since arriving in January, we have seen the population dwindle as the snowbirds leave the island for summer.  I just cannot escape snowbirds!

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Spirited Ghost Town of Jerome Arizona

2016 Jerome JPerched on top of Cleopatra Hill in the heart of Verde Valley, Arizona is the old mining town of Jerome.  Once a bustling copper mining town, Jerome officially became a ghost town in the 1950’s and finally a National Historic District in 1967.2016_JGH2

Jerome is a family favorite for me since the 1970’s.  Every time I visit Jerome, there is something new to see!  This little ghost town is a hidden gem bustling with activity.  There are hotels, restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms, art galleries, museums, and old fashion saloons!2016 WInery

The views are stunning throughout the town!  Customers line up at the various restaurants and wineries that showcase the view. One of the most popular spots is the delicious Haunted Hamburger restaurant.

This little town is full of eerie sights and locations haunted by former residents from the days as the “Wickedest Town in the West”.  These spirits continue to offer ghost hunters more questions around the strange apparitions and unexplained moving objects.   The town’s Community Center is also known as Spook Hall due to a resident ghost and her odd behavior.  The former brothels on Main Street are still popular for sightings of phantoms.  These spirits continue to offer ghost hunters more questions around the strange apparitions and unexplained moving objects.

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Arizona Renaissance Festival

Step back in time and into a world of fantasy at the Arizona Renaissance Festival, full of Knights, Royalty, Mermaids, Pirates, Gypsies, and more.  2016_FrontGate

Don Juan & Miguel with Zilch the Torysteller
Don Juan & Miguel with Zilch the Torysteller

The festival operates every weekend in February and March, President’s day and a few select school days.  The base ticket price includes entrance to the festival grounds, ample parking, petting zoo, and all shows, including the joust.

Helpful Information for your visit: Continue reading “Arizona Renaissance Festival”

South Mountain Park

Hiking is one of my favorite free activities in Phoenix.  Our desert valley is surrounded by mountains providing stunning views and wildlife.  South Mountain Park/Preserve in the heart of Phoenix is over 16,000 acres, approximately 20 times the size of New York’s Central Park, it is the largest municipal park in the country!  Now is the perfect time to Go Take a Hike!

South Mountain Park
South Mountain Park

South Mountain Park is easy access from anywhere in metro-Phoenix and offers trails for every level of athletic ability.  Horses, dogs, and mountain bikes are all welcome on the trails.

Desert Classic Trail
Desert Classic Trail

With nearly 60 miles of trails, I like to map out the hike before heading to a trail head.  Most trails are easily followed with metal signposts along the trail as a guide, and many of these were recently updated with trail name, QR code, elevation, and specific trail post information.  I always bring a hard copy trail map of the area I plan to be in.  A recent hike with friends was so beautiful we decided to add another couple miles to our hike, which was easily accomplished with a brief look at our trail map.south-mountain-park-map

 

 

There are at least 4 main parking lots, and many more parking areas near perimeter trail heads.2015_SM1There are excellent maps and detailed descriptions of trails provided by National Geographic at All Trails website.  Here is more information about the beautiful desert trails including petroglyphs and ruins.

Pima Canyon entrance from Guadalupe
Pima Canyon entrance from Guadalupe

Pima Canyon entrance is accessed from I-10 and Baseline road, just off of 48th street and Guadalupe.  This popular parking lot is usually packed with cars, and offers restrooms, water fountains, shaded benches, and areas for cooking/grilling.

Pima Canyon Gazebo
Pima Canyon Gazebo

 

Desert Foothills Parkway is a smaller parking lot located at the Southern tip of the park and offers shaded area, water fountains, and portable toilets.

Desert Foothills Parking and Gazebo
Desert Foothills Parking and Gazebo

 

 

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